THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 34. What is adoption?

ANSWER: Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.


Q. 1. What does the word adoption signify among men?

A. It signifies the taking of a stranger into a family, and dealing with him, as if he were a child or heir.

Q. 2. What is the difference between adoption, as it is an act of God, and as it is a deed of men?

A. Men generally adopt only one into their family, and they do it on account of some amiable properties, or qualifications, discerned in the adopted; but God adopts many into his family, and that, not upon account of any thing commendable in them, but merely out of his own free and unmerited love, Eph. 1:5.

Q. 3. Of how many kinds of adoption do the scriptures speak?

A. Two kinds; namely, general and special.

Q. 4. What is meant by general adoption?

A. It is the erecting of a certain indefinite number of mankind into a visible church, and entitling them to all the privileges of it, Rom. 9:4.

Q. 5. What is the outward seal, or badge, of this general adoption?

A. It is baptism; which comes in the room of circumcision under the Old Testament, Eph. 4:5.

Q. 6. What is to be understood by special adoption?

A. It is a sovereign and free translation of a sinner of mankind, from the family of hell, or Satan, into the family of heaven, or household of God, Eph. 2:19; with an investiture into all the privileges of the sons of God, 1 John 3:1.

Q. 7. By whose act and authority is this translation accomplished?

A. By the act and authority of God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Q. 8. What is the act of the Father in this matter?

A. He has "predestinated us unto the adoption of children to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," Eph. 1:5.

Q. 9. What is the act of the Son in this special adoption?

A. In consequence of his purchasing the sinner by the price of his blood, he actually gives the power, right, or privilege, to become a child of God, in the day of believing, John 1:12.

Q. 10. What is the act of the Holy Ghost?

A. He comes in Christ's name, takes possession of the person, and dwells in him, as a Spirit of adoption, teaching him to cry, Abba, Father, Rom. 8:15.

Q. 11. Why is this translation into the family of God, called an act?

A. Because it is done at once, Jer. 3:19.

Q. 12. Why called an act of God's free grace?

A. Because the adoption of any of mankind into the household of God, flows entirely from his own free love and favour, Eph. 1:5, they being, all of them, wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, Rev. 3:17.

Q. 13. What is the difference between good angels being called the sons of God, Job 38:7, and believers being so called? 1 John 3:1.

A. Good angels are called the sons God, because they were created immediately by him; but believers are so called, because they are adopted by him into his family, Rom. 8:15.

Q. 14. Why are we said, in adoption, to be received into the number of the sons of Go d?

A. Because the family of God, from among men, consists of a certain definite number of mankind, which can neither be augmented nor diminished, John 17:2, 9, 12, and 6:39.

Q. 15. By what means or instrument does God receive any of mankind into his family?

A. By the means and instrumentality of faith, Gal. 3:26 -- "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."

Q. 16. What connexion is there between faith in Christ Jesus, and our being the children of God?

A. Faith unites us to Christ, and acquiesces in the redemption purchased by him, as the meritorious cause of our adoption, Gal. 4:4, 5 -- "God sent forth his Son -- to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."

Q. 17. Since adoption is an act of translation, from the family of Satan to the family of God, to whom is it intimated?

A. To the angels in heaven; and sometimes to the adopted themselves.

Q. 18. How is it intimated to the angels in heaven?

A. It is probable that it is intimated to them by immediate revelation, Luke 15:10 -- "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth."

Q. 19. How is it intimated to the adopted themselves?

A. By the "Spirit itself bearing witness with their spirit that they are the children of God," Rom. 8:16.

Q. 20. Is there any intimation of this made to Satan?

A. No; but he cannot miss to know, when he is spoiled of his goods, and the lawful captive delivered, Mark 9:26.

Q. 21. When sinners of mankind are adopted, and enrolled into the family of heaven, is their NAME changed?

A. Yes; as the wife's name is sunk into her husband's, so the former name of the adopted is sunk into Christ's new name, Rev. 3:12 -- "I will write upon him my new name."

Q. 22. What was the former, and what is the present name of the adopted children of God?

A. Their former name was, "strangers and foreigners;" their present name is, "fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," Eph. 2:19; their former name was, guilty and condemned; their present name is, "the Lord our righteousness," Jer. 33:16; their former name denoted, that they "were without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world," Eph. 2:12; their present name is Jehovah-shammah, The Lord is there, Ezek. Ezek. 48:35.

Q. 23. Why is Christ's name, put upon them, called his new name?

A. Because it is a name that shall never wax old, or vanish away, Heb. 8:13.

Q. 24. Whence come they by this new name?

A. When Christ gives them the white stone of pardon he, at the same time, gives them, in that stone, the new name of being the sons of God; which name "no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it," Rev. 2:17.

Q. 25. What are the privileges with which the sons of God are invested?

A. Among others, they are invested with great dignity, glorious liberty, a title to the whole inheritance, boldness of access to God as a father, and his fatherly chastisement, or correction.[47]

Q. 26. What is the great dignity or honour to which they are advanced?

A. To the dignity of being "kings and priests unto God," Rev. 1:6, or "a royal priesthood," 1 Pet. 2:9; to feast on Christ their passover sacrificed for them, 1 Cor. 5:7.

Q. 27. In what consists "the glorious liberty of the children of God," mentioned, Rom. 8:21?

A. Not only in a freedom from the guilt and dominion of sin, the curse of the law, the tyranny of Satan, and sting of death, John 8:36; but in a filial, and reverential obedience, flowing from a principle of faith and love inlaid in the soul, Gal. 5:6.

Q. 28. Upon what is their title to the inheritance founded?

A. Upon their being Christ's -- "and heirs according to the promise," Gal. 3:29.

Q. 29. What is the inheritance which the adopted children of God are heirs of "according to the promise?"

A. They are "HEIRS of the righteousness which is by faith," Heb. 11:7; "heirs of the grace of life," 1 Pet. 3:7; "heirs of salvation," Heb. 1:14; and, which comprehends all, they are "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ," Rom. 8:17.

Q. 30. What does their boldness of access to God, as their Father, include in it?

A. A firm persuasion of the power, love, and faithfulness of a promising God, Rom. 4:20, 21, and an assured expectation of relief from him: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us," 1 John 5:14.

Q. 31. What are the grounds of this boldness?

A. The righteousness of Christ apprehended by faith, Psalm 84:9, and his prevalent intercession within the veil, 1 John 2:1.

Q. 32. Why is it that God chastises his adopted children?

A. Because he loves them, Heb. 12:6 -- "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth."

Q. 33. With what does he chastise them?

A. Sometimes with the rod of outward affliction, of various kinds, Psalm 34:19; and sometimes with the rod of desertion, Psalm 30:7.

Q. 34. For what end does he thus chastise them?

A. For their profit, that they may be "partakers of his holiness," Heb. 12:10.

Q. 35. How ought the children to behave under the chastisement of their Father?

A. They ought neither to "despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when they are rebuked by him," Heb. 12:5.

Q. 36. What are the marks or evidences of the adopted children of God?

A. They will resemble their Father, 1 John 3:2; they know their Father's voice, John 10:4; delight in their Father's company, Rom. 8:15; are deeply concerned for his absence, Job 23:3; and out of love to him that begat, they have great love to all them that are "begotten of him," 1 John 5:1.


[47] Confession of Faith, chapter 12.
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